Category Painting & Sculpture

Artist of Repose: Sculptor Tinka Jordy’s Profound Humanist Vision

Sculpture, like all other art forms, has always ridden along on historical waves of style and sensibility. It both joins in with and helps to direct the prevailing currents unique to any given era.

Not much cottoning to the hottest new trends in painting, sculpture, literature, music or film? Just give it 20 minutes and, as in springtime, the clouds will probably shift again and the light may manifest in ways more to your liking.

But as we look through the long-running project of humanity trying, with a considerable assist from its artists, to define itself within and against the world, we can recognize certain enduring, classical currents that manage to keep percolating, however sparely, through every era. Probably foremost among those is depiction of the human body in a way that at least dignifies—if not exalts—the remarkable, uniquely self-conscious life form that it is.

This humanistic sensibility...

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Dark and Resplendent Nights: A Study of Van Gogh’s Two Cafés

Decades ago, when I had my head buried in theology and philosophy at Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, I used to regularly wander over to the Caffe Mediterraneum on Telegraph Avenue, a kind of rough-hewn and clattery coffeehouse with a 1950s pedigree, way before coffeehouses-ala-Starbucks got chic. The place had a kind of Mideast/Turkish vibe, the servers usually dark and mustachioed, the patrons hunched over their espressos with stacks of art books or Heidegger and Sartre philosophical tomes prominently displayed next to them on the round tables.

The “Med” wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, as it were, but its tone of brooding, vaguely discernible despondency and graduate school noir held a certain bohemian allure...

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Curiosity, Holiness, Science: An Homage to Eve

A recent scene at my neighborhood pool: It’s closing time and the lifeguards are rolling the tarp off its big spool and laying it out across the water. A 3- or 4-year-old boy bolts away from his mother at the gate leading outside and squats down poolside, gazing intently as the tarp unfurls. His mother calls to him, “O.K., let’s go!”

All he does in response is reach his hand out so he can touch the tarp as it moves under his fingers. His mother may as well be a million miles away.

I am smiling to myself at the whole scene, don’t even realize my smile shows until I approach the gate and Mom says to me, smiling herself now, “It’s so interesting!”

“Of course it is!” I respond. “And it’s so interesting that it’s interesting to him!”

She vigorously assents to this and we both laugh, marveling at the insatiable, seemingly undiscriminating curiosity of the young.

But re...

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The “Memorial Flag” Art of Dave Cole

In his 2005 work, “Memorial Flag (Toy Soldiers),” Providence, Rhode Island-based Dave Cole (born 1975) gives expression to just the kind of moral conundrums all great political art points to. Sometimes, such art adopts a powerful point of view towards the conundrum (think of Picasso’s fiercely anti-war “Guernica”), while other times it rests with merely noting a deeply troubling question or perspective while allowing viewers to grapple with it as they will.

Cole’s “Memorial Flag” painting strikes this viewer as decidedly more the latter.

Cole created what he considers an actual flag rather than an artistic representation by melting together and then painting 18,000 toy soldiers armed with their guns, the soldiers of the type that most every American boy learned to play and fantasize with growing up in the 20th century...

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